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CINEMANIA

USA / Germany, 2002 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Angela Christlieb, Stephan Kijak

Are you prepared to alter your diet to avoid the need for toilet breaks, thus fitting in more movie screenings each day? Do you take changes of clothes to the cinema to avoid coming home? Can you live on peanut butter sandwiches for months in order to afford up to eight screenings a day?

The individuals profiled in this probing but frequently hilarious documentary represent the most extreme cinephiles. People for whom obsession knows no bounds, these New York City movie maniacs run their lives according to computerised screening schedules and a voracious appetite for film culture. They are possessed by bizarre eccentricities: is it okay, for instance, to leap upon and strangle an usher who tore your ticket and ruined a pristine collection you began in 1950?

Compulsive rituals (Roberta must have a precise amount of souvenirs of every film she sees); disturbing love lives (Bill has joined a dating service to meet and marry a French woman so as to move to Paris where there are more cinemas) and borderline psychosis (Harvey recites exact running times for films like he's auditioning for Rainman II). An extraordinary documentary about a subculture that has spent way too long in the dark.

Angela Christlieb graduated from the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts in 1996. She has directed a number of shorts prior to Cinemania, including Ich und Du (1996) and The Wand (1996). Stephan Kijak wrote, produced and directed his first feature, Never Met Picasso, in 1996. He has also produced work for television and is currently working on a documentary about the music of Scott Walker.

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